Fishing in a drought

As I’ve never claimed to be a fully competent angler, there will – inevitably – be periods when my lack of skill is exposed, so the drought I am referring to is one of ‘nae fish’.

The last month or so has seen my most recent drought, with fish few and far between. Much as I deserve. What such ‘quiet’ periods do, however, is to bring clarity to why I fish in the first place.

If fishing was purely about bringing fish to the net, I would have given up years ago (and indeed if I have any regular readers, they will know that I probably wouldn’t have got very far into angling at all given my spectacular lack of success as a youngster). No – there must be something much more to fishing. A much greater prize.

On a recent trip to Wester Ross with a friend who is only just starting his angling odyssey – and who therefore sets himself much more modest goals than I do – I was reminded, as if I needed to be, that ‘a good day’s fishing’ is so much more than a numbers game. We had a wonderfully short ‘up and over’ walk from Badrallach to a gaggle of nearby lochans and spent two days pursuing their finned residents, but sadly had scant reward in terms of fish caught. Four to me (the ‘expert’), four to my mate (the beginner).

As the alleged  ‘expert’ I was less than happy with the lack of fish and I found it difficult to embrace the Zen of having a great time in the most magnificent scenery, despite our view looking out over Little Loch Broom towards the Summer Isles being second to none. The beginner, filled with far less expectation of piscatorial success, had a great time and embraced all that is good about hill-loch fishing.  A good lesson re-learned.

Earlier in the same week, I spent another uncomfortable night getting not a pull or a rise (again embarrassing as I was accompanying a group of beginners and meant to be showing them ‘how it’s done’). They would have been far better following the example of a nearby boat whose occupants were having a rare old night, with fish after fish succumbing to their method. Sadly, I never did work out the necessary technique and finished fishless on a night that had seemed so full of promise.

Angling has that wonderfully humbling and levelling aspect – no matter what your station in life, or age, or bank balance, we are so often humbled by failing in our quest to catch a creature with the brain the size of a pea – and often whilst employing the use of equipment costing hundreds (if not thousands) of pounds. I love this – even when, as so often, I am on the receiving end of the humbling experience.

To cap it all, I then followed up this outing with a trip to Loch Leven on a night with a blustery east wind. Thankfully my expectations for this trip were low in terms of catching fish but high in terms of enjoyment as I was to be fishing with one of my dearest pals so good craic was guaranteed.

The evening turned out to be as tough as we expected, with no fish rising and only one (of very modest dimension) boated by us. It was, however, an unreservedly ‘good night’ due to the company, the beautiful loch and the chance at least of a beautiful wild trout – and there’s nothing not to like about that, is there? You have to enjoy the journey.

Having said all this; I am just off for a day on the Tay at Ballathie and I’d sell my soul for a fish…

Fishing in a drought


Drought over – a fresh bar of silver from the Ballathie Beat of the Tay, 14 June, about to go back.

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